My research is focused on the aerodynamics and flight performance of flying animals. My current project is funded by a four year grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR) and the focus lies on the aerodynamics of manoeuvring flight in animals. The project started in the beginning of 2014 and will involve a suite of wind tunnel based experiments on selected species from each of the three groups of flying animals – insects, birds and bats. I use flow visualisation techniques (Particle Image Velocimetry) to capture and analyse the aerodynamic wake generated by the animals as they fly in the wind tunnel while performing various types of manoeuvers. This is a largely uncharted area of the research field of animal aerodynamics but is something that is ever present to any animal that takes to the sky since it is involved in every aspect of flight – catching prey, avoiding predator, flying through cluttered environments, coping with gusty winds, and so on. I hope to be able to build a foundation of knowledge about the aerodynamics of some of the basic manoeuvers across and within the three taxonomical groups. This foundation will then form a good base for us to venture into exploration of the more intricate manoeuvres performed by the animals.
Previous to my current position I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Oxford Animal Flight Group at the Zoology department at Oxford University between 2010 and 2013. During my three years in Oxford I studied various aspects of insect flight. The main focus of the studies was on efficiency of flight and how it relates to wing morphology and for this we studied locusts, hawkmoths, dragonflies and damselflies, among other things.
Before my post-doc work I did my PhD at Lund University between 2005 and 2010 studying the flight behaviour of the common swift. The studies involved several different techniques: Wind tunnel experiments using flow visualisation techniques to study the aerodynamics, tracking radar measurements to study the flight speeds, flight directions and wind responses during migration and roosting flights, and high-speed filming in the field to measure flight performance of the birds in display flights.
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